When the Florida Legislature returns to Tallahassee in early January for its first committee work week ahead of the 2017 session, two Miami-Dade Republican lawmakers will also use the time to get a head-start on raising money for their 2018 races.
And they'll have the help of some powerful party backers.
Newly elected Miami state Sen. Frank Artiles and Hialeah state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. -- who's running for a Florida Senate seat in 2018 -- are planning a joint fundraising reception for Jan. 10 at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee, according to an invitation obtained by the Herald/Times.
The host committee for the reception includes five influential Republicans, four of whom are current or future chamber leaders: current Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart, Bradenton Sen. Bill Galvano, Trilby Sen. Wilton Simpson, Miami Lakes state Rep. Jose Oliva and Hialeah Sen. René García.
As Senate president, Negron is in charge of the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which raises money to assist top party candidates. Galvano and Simpson are both on track to be future Senate presidents after Negron: Galvano in the 2018-2020 term and Simpson in 2020-2022. And, Oliva is poised to take over as House speaker in 2018.
García's presence on the host committee indicates an endorsement of Diaz as his successor. García is in his final term representing Senate District 36 and Diaz, a three-term representative, is running for that seat.
Expect that Artiles and Diaz won't be the only ones fundraising in January. Committee weeks often attract evening fundraising receptions since lawmakers are already convened in Tallahassee. House and Senate rules bar lawmakers from fundraising during the official legislative session, which in 2017 begins in March.